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Subject: Jay Clooth
Have you posted this review in the wrong place?
Subject: Two Stars, a Sitcom and a DVD Release
I have fond memories of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place which date back to when the series was first shown in the late, not particularly lamented, cable channel Trouble around the turn of the millennium. One decade on, it’s rare that I find anyone able to recall the series as anything other than that show Ryan Reynolds was in before he was famous. Indeed, Two Guys and a Girl (as it was later renamed) spawned not one but two future film and television stars; the aforementioned Reynolds and Firefly and Castle’s Nathan Fillion. Even Traylor Howard, although not a household name, would go on to greater success as Tony Shalhoub’s sidekick in Monk. My own memories of the series are patchy, but surely a show I watched from start to finish offered something more than this. Can it really be confined to the Before They Were Famous clips-fest graveyard, or does it hold any value in and of itself?
This release collects all thirteen episodes from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place’s first season. Premiering in 1998 on ABC and created by Kenny Scwartz and Danny Jacobson, the show told the story of errr… two guys, a girl and a pizza place. The two titular guys are flat-mates Pete (Richard Ruccolo) and Berg (Reynolds), who at the onset of the series are unsure about what directions their careers are heading. Pete, inclined towards neurosis, has embarked upon work as an architect, while Berg works his way through medical school. Their friend Sharon (Traylor Howard), who lives in the same apartment building, appears to have her career in order, but is morally torn up over the fact she works for an unquestionably evil corporation. The trio’s lives (and the plots of many of these early episodes) revolve around Beacon Street Pizza. Owned by Bill (Julius Carry, an actor whose name I am sorry to discover is now prefaced with “the late”) and patronised by the insane Mr Bauer (M*A*S*H’s David Ogden Stiers), this is the restaurant in which both Pete and Berg work.
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place on DVD
Despite a fantastic performance from Ogden Stiers, the character of Mr Bauer is symptomatic of what I have come to view as the series’ problems. A deluded washout who substitutes the plots of movies for his own experiences whose appearances should have had the potential to be regular highlights, but we are unfortunately never invited to learn anything but the bare minimum about the character. What has happened in the Mr Bauer’s life to bring him to this point? Why does he choose to hang around a low-rent Pizza restaurant? Does he have a life outside the confined of those four walls? The writers don’t seem interested in making him any more than a one-note character and, disappointingly, both he and Bill were soon axed in favour of new characters who could better serve the soap-opera direction the series took.
The plotlines featured during this first run are standard sitcom fare, with one character or other roping the others into some sort of wacky shenanigans. The jokes are plenty and the writing is fair enough, but if one was to pick a single adjective with which to describe the show then that word would have to be bland. There is simply nothing remarkable or intriguing about the show’s format or it’s characters. The one exception to this rule may be Reynold’s performance. Even at this early stage in his career, there was clearly something about the actor that would lead him on to bigger things. Note that I didn’t say better things; watch his scenes as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and you’ll get where I’m coming from.
Far more of a problem is the series’ woeful canned laughter dub. I do hesitate to apply that term as it is so often misused, but if the audio track featured during these episodes represents an un-tampered with audience, that audience must have been lobotomized. At the very least a live studio audience has been “sweetened” in post-production. Every line, regardless of merit, is met with waves of guffaws that do nothing to endear the series’ slight scripts to the viewer at home. The episodes are fine and fitfully funny, but this attempt at plastering over the cracks is akin to being told to have fun at gunpoint.
My hazy memories of the series latter seasons frame it as an off-beat show which took the kind of storytelling risks that How I Met Your Mother and even the venerated Community are taking today, but based upon this first season sampling I can only conclude that Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place is simply harmless and occasionally funny. I came to this release keen to rediscover a series I had greatly enjoyed upon its initial run, but rather than discovering gourmet Calzone, I am left with the sad conclusion it is nothing more than a reheated Dominoes.
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Season 1 is released by Revelation.
Yeah, this was accepted in 1941 because bigotry was preferably still legal in 1941. Trash do as Trash does and THIS trash STINKS!
Reminds me of Lena Horne!!
Subject: 4 stars
I could have swore this was called Lazytown... then the unknown black woman appears and everyone starts to get motivated. Apart from all the other characters she is the only one who doesnt look fugly the rest are all scary, but then again its the animators and creators who wanted them to look that way so i guess not much can be said.
JD Kay -
Subject: Git It Now
It's funny cause it's true?
I'd like to see this updated with a rap/hip hop soundtrack. Also, the voices should be supplied by Amos & Andy type characters (of course, voiced by white actors).
It's funny cause it's true....right?
Subject: as historical mirror
I grew up in the South of the 40's and 50's. Then and now, stereotypes were and are ridiculously unfair. They testify to the stupidity of white racists and their enablers (the great silent majority): any people ruthlessly suppressed and deprived of all opportunity would naturally gain such a reputation as depicted in this cartoon. After all, why work when it's only for the oppressor's gain? And since music and dance are the only real joys left, that's where energy and spontaneity goes. This cartoon as historical mirror actually is an indictment of Walter Lantz, his organization, and all the exhibitors and viewers who stupidly used it to stoke their own sanctimonious superiority.
Subject: This is history
I enjoy the big band era and I like this because of the beauty of the style of music and expression. As far as the interpretation of my race; black. I find it amusing of how stupid we were labeled to be lazy, with big hips, big butts and big hips. Now people are paying big money to have high paying jobs so they can have time to be lazy, and have surgery to have big hips, big butts and big lips.
Subject: One of my favorites.
The great thing about cartoons like this is that they're FUNNY. We can watch them now and see how ridiculous it is that people actually believed this is how actual African Americans looked & behaved. Am I the only one who sees beauty in that?
Propaganda only has as much power as you give to it. If we see this as simply a silly cartoon, that is all it can amount to.
Subject: I just love Classic Radio and TV Fan!
Man, you nailed this on the HEAD!
People, you need to realize that this sort of thing was accepted in the 1940s. Was it right? no. But, it was accepted. And also understand that some things we do now will NOT be acceptable 60 years from now. So, we just get over it and enjoy some entertainment.
Read more of Classic's reviews... this person knows what they're talking about.
This cartoon would make an EXCELLENT demonstration of the worst kind of racial stereotyping in the early 1950s.
You're an idiot, this is from 1941. You are porbably the same kind of person who thinks "My Mother The Car" was as popular as "I Love Lucy", you revisionist dumbass.
Subject: Audio is way off in streaming version
not that it really matters, because you get the idea this video is espousing that "duh KNEE-grows caint git nuttin' dun 'less day gaht deyr jive ta day-ants ta." And yes, I made that as offensive as I could, trying to remember how "colored dialect" was written out in the days of Jim Crow and before. If what I just wrote was offensive to you, the video will be 10 times as offensive. This cartoon would make an EXCELLENT demonstration of the worst kind of racial stereotyping in the early 1950s. Lantz does an effective production and Alex Lovy's (later with Depatie-Freleng and Warner Bros.) animation is acceptable and professional for what it aimed to do. The voice doubles are good enough to recognize who they're supposed to be.
yeah, I'm not easily offended either, but good Gods this is horrible!
I just watched a Betty Boop cartoon that had racial stereotypes as well, but they were benign in comparison.
Laziness, watermelons, is there a stereotype they DON'T use?????
Subject: Rotten Garbage
I love old time animation, and I'm not easily offended. But oh sweet Buddha, This cartoon is garbage. Everybody condemns the 50's but a quick look at "Beulah" and "The Jack Benny Program" show just how far America had come since 1941. Both of those shows feature black people in dignified roles, and although they play servants, the charactors they play are actually quite smart. This 1941 cartoon is unintentionally hilarious in it's horrible stereotypes. I'm glad it was preserved, but frankly I can't understand a 4-star rating.
Subject: MORE WATERMELON?
Probably THE most controversial and racist cartoon ever made, it's still quite amusing AND amazing to catch who is who. Like the riverboat female is obviously Lena Horne, the ship's captain is Louis Armstrong.. There was a few others. Plenty and PLENTY for you to be offended at. By the guy who gave you Woody Woodpecker.